Sean Scully. Géographies
28.04.2024 – 16.06.2024
The Passerelle Center d’art contemporain is currently presenting the first solo exhibition by Sean Scully (1945, Ireland) in Brittany. Since the 1970s, Sean Scully has developed into one of the most important abstract artists with an individual painting style that went against the grain of the minimal and conceptual art that was popular at the time. Freedom and emotion are his watchwords and permeate all of his art. Scully’s work is a leap, an impressive experience, an alternative to reality: the human being, even if not depicted, is the focus of his paintings.
Sean Scully is one of the most important painters of his generation, whose works are held in important museum collections around the world. He is best known for his large-scale abstract paintings, which consist of vertical and horizontal bands, mosaic-like blocks, and geometric shapes with color gradations and shifts. He also always works in a variety of different media, including printmaking, sculpture, watercolor and pastel.
Over the last five decades, Scully has developed a style all her own and has secured a permanent place in the history of painting. His work combines a thoroughly international incorporation of influences, ranging from the legacy of American abstraction with inspiration from Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock to the European tradition with allusions to Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian as well as references to classical Greek architecture. Despite their monumental scale and gestures, Scully’s works are characterized by an undeniable tenderness and sincerity of feeling.
The exhibition “Géographies” takes a new look at Sean Scully’s immense oeuvre. It’s about the places he lived and the affection he developed for them. The exhibition begins with Britain, where Sean Scully grew up and worked as a typographer from the age of 15 before studying art. It was the scene of his first experiments with the grid motif, strongly inspired by a formative stay in Morocco.
Ireland, his homeland, is evoked through literature, while the United States, where he settled in the 1970s, is a place where Scully has recently taken up a social theme with the “Ghosts” series of paintings. Here, Scully vehemently denounces the proliferation of firearms and the constant resort to violence. The light and the Mayan cultural sites of Mexico, which he discovered in the 1980s, have had a particularly lasting influence on his painting.
This also applies to “the philosophical rigor of Germany”, where he has lived since 2001 and taught as a professor at the Academy in Munich from 2002 to 2007, as well as to light and art history in Spain, where he also had a studio for many years. A recent figurative work tells the story of his family, including that of his son, on the island of Eleuthera.
Finally, France, a country that Scully values and has spent part of his life in, is evoked primarily through its art history and landscapes. Included in the presentation are Sean Scully’s donations to the Ludwig Museum in 2023.
Sean Scully, “Untitled (Wall)”, 2019, Öl auf Kupfer, 70 x 70 cm, Sammlung Ludwig Museum Koblenz, Inv. Nr. LM 2022/1